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Let me be brief. This is Hillary Rodham Clinton’s America. A country filled with opportunity and optimism, don’t let anybody else tell you we are not great. Ever since moving to VA we have regularly attended the Fourth of July naturalization ceremony at Monticello. I am always moved to tears by the ceremony; people from dozens of countries are proud and honored to take the oath of allegiance, to abandon kings and despots for our particular brand of democracy.

I never thought one party had patriotism wrapped up in a bow, all to themselves. I was born into a working-class, Democratic family. We had a picture of FDR hanging in our kitchen, where others in our mostly Catholic neighborhood might have had the Virgin Mary. When my Father died, the Flapper received a Child’s Insurance Benefit check from the government – $19.16 per child, per month. Do you consider that a hand-out or a hand-up? A helping hand? It’s time to pick sides.

Almost $77 dollars to feed and clothe four children in 1949.

The Catholic Church never showed up after the funeral. Never once offered a prayer, even after the Flapper was crippled in that July 4th car accident. In our family’s Year of Living Dangerously, only her friends, my Foster Parents came to help.

But last night at the DNC, a preacher man showed up:

“We are being called like our forefathers and foremothers to be the moral defibrillators of our time,” Barber said. The call brought most of the audience in the convention hall to its feet.

Barber, a preacher who described himself as the son of a preacher there to represent no particular organization, is the pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, N.C., president of the North Carolina NAACP, a member of the organization’s national board, chair of the NAACP’s Legislative Political Action Committee and one of the primary organizers of Moral Mondays.

Moral Mondays are, as The New Yorker magazine described them, a now-regular set of progressive activist vigils held in North Carolina’s capital city, Raleigh. There, mostly black civil rights activists from poor coastal communities like Barber and mostly white and wealthy environmentalists from towns like Chapel Hill have joined forces with all kinds of progressive activists, with a constancy that has drawn national attention.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/07/28/the-rev-william-barber-dropped-the-mic/

And y’all know how I feel about religion right? I think everybody who’s praying has the ear of One God, if he/she exists. But don’t subvert your religion to run my life, or our country! Ever since a nun told me only Catholics get into heaven, I knew something was fishy. But this was before nuns boarded buses and last night I learned that Rev William Barber is doing God’s work. In a state that has seen Republican bills advanced to discriminate against LGBT people and women, Barber gets in these legislators faces every Monday. Last night he said:

“Pay people what they deserve, share your food with the hungry. Do this and then your nation shall be called a repairer of the breach.”

“Jesus, a brown-skin Palestinian Jew, called us to preach good news to the poor, the broken and the bruised and all those who are made to feel unaccepted.”

Now this is a church I could get behind a pew for, I might even kneel down again on these arthritic knees.

So no, we Democrats didn’t all of a sudden become patriotic, because we always were patriotic! We wear our flag on our heart, not on our sleeve. But last night, at such a historic moment, when we nominated the first woman to the highest office in the land, some of us came back to church! As my Nana would say, who was denied her first vote in 1920 because she had married an Irish immigrant, “Saints be praised!”

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Another Day

Today is just another day. The hazy hot and humid days of mid-summer are upon us. While I had to live without AC for a week, I thought about my childhood. I know, make fun of me now; but my purpose here isn’t to tell you how much harder it was for us. It is simply an observation. We went to the movies because at least they had AC, and we slowed down. We opened windows and used fans. The ice cream truck would come every day and we couldn’t wait to hear its music on the street. My Foster Daddy Jim would come home from Picatinny Arsenal and scoop me up to Brown’s Pond for a dip in the cold water.

Nobody complained about the heat, because what could you do? We were in it together.

Today isn’t just another day in Nashville. It’s The Groom’s birthday, and lately he’s been very busy. He started a new job, a first position as an attending at Vandy. As Bob knows only too well, the buck will stop at his desk. No matter what goes right or wrong, he will have to answer for it. He is an excellent teacher, herding new and seasoned residents around those sacred halls, taking night call in the MICU for weeks at a time. He credits his team when they win a battle. And he is the one who will talk to a family member when sepsis or cancer wins the almighty struggle. Not everyone is suited for such sacrifice, but he is supremely good at what he does.

He is 6’6″ tall. His voice, his mere presence is enough. The Groom can command a room, but chooses to listen to every opinion before embarking on a treatment plan.

The Bride and Groom just moved into their new house. He’s been hanging curtains and moving furniture around. He rushed home when a smoke alarm went off and his Bride fell off a chair trying to fix it. It made me think of that day when they were living in Cville, and one of their friends thought a smoke alarm was going off. It turned out to be a new medical student’s beeper in the pocket of his white coat! They had left the hospital for some time in class, and the white coats were abandoned in a hall closet; the battery singing its last tune.

And today is just another day. The Groom will return home and scoop up their two babies, placing them in a red wagon, and walk to the park. He will play with them, and talk to them about all the bits of nature around them. He will invent new games, he will stare up at the clouds with them and imagine animal shapes. And he will most likely bring the dog along for some exercise. He doesn’t complain about his fatherly duties, because this generation of men know they are in it together with their wives. And he knows instinctively if it’s a day to bring home dinner, to hunt and gather, or to go out for a meal.

But today isn’t just another day. My daughter will cook his favorite food and bake a three-layer birthday cake, letting the Love Bug help peel carrots and lick the frosting bowl. With all the stress of the past few weeks, I hope he gets to kick off his shoes and dance a little bit tonight – pick up his guitar and unwind, put the Baby on the keyboard and give the Bug a harmonica.

Because today we are all thankful you were born. Much love on your birthday, and thank you for being an outstanding husband and father, for joining our “outlier” family of giraffe lovers.We couldn’t have asked for a better son-in-law! Remember today to slow down just a little, this time with young children will fly by, in Joni’s immortal words:

We’re captive on the carousel of time
We can’t return we can only look behind
From where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game      10320486_10203678944316165_691215505164009992_n

 

Last night, instead of watching the Republican Convention wrap up, Bob was working a shift for our dear friend and his colleague, Harvey. They have known each other for many years. Bob was an attending in the Berkshires when Harvey trained in Emergency Medicine, back at BMC when residents had to wear jackets and ties. And after we moved back to NJ to be closer to family, so did he and his wife Vicki. Bob ran the department at Riverview Hospital, and Harv worked at Community Medical Center in Toms River. A Philly guy, his family had a summer home in Seaside.

The funny thing is, they moved further south when their children began attending VA colleges. And before you knew it, Harvey was the Assistant Director in Bob’s ER.

In yet another example of this one degree of separation, Harvey’s daughter graduated from medical school and decided to follow in her Dad’s footsteps. Ashley is currently an EM resident at UVA Medical Center…and last night she delivered a grand daughter to our friends! Brighton Grace is 7lbs 6oz and doing well along with the whole family.

Congratulations Harvey and Vicki, your heart will expand every day from now on. Your lungs will exhale love with every breath. Your arms will ache to hold her whenever she comes into view. Get used to it. This job of grandparenting is the easiest one in the books. Discipline isn’t our job, spoiling and loving unconditionally is; be prepared to redesign your home. You will want it to be a grandparent magnet, drawing this little one and those who will follow, closer and closer.

You will create a Frozen bedroom – or whatever the pop icon of 3 year olds will be in 2019

You will stockpile her favorite Mac n Cheese

You will put baby locks on your cabinets and gates on your stairs

You will purchase infant car seats; and look at Craig’s List for cribs

You will tell your daughter that nobody ever dies from lack of sleep

You will tell your son-in-law to try a ride in the car with loud rock music

You will be there when she first puts her toes in Jersey sand

You will be there when she can’t talk to her parents anymore

When a child is born, so is a grandparent. Many many mazels from us to you Vicki and Harvey. Cousin Anita gave me a picture frame that sits above the kitchen sink when the Love Bug was born, it made me actually print a picture off the computer. And if you need a high chair, Anita says you can have the one I borrowed!

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  1. Get caught up on Netflix – I’m way behind on “Orange is the New Black” and that wacky adorable “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” saga.
  2. Watch “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” – Great Grandma Ada and I are going to do this. We need to know why Kanje is fighting with Taylor Swift.
  3. Go out for a walk – Just don’t chase fictional Pokemon characters puhleeze.
  4. Read – Anita suggested this; she just finished, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, be aware it will probably make you angry. http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/03/eviction-matthew-desmond-housing/471375/
  5. Take in a Movie – How about the new Ghostbusters? Can’t wait to see it!
  6. Sign up for a new Blog – I mentioned this gal before, she’s definitely a fun read. Imagine an armadillo applying for comfort animal status: https://imissyouwheniblink.com/2016/07/11/armadillo-applies-for-job-comfort-animal/
  7. Of course, you could always listen to music! Or talk with your significant other. Or do yoga together, or anything else really. Tango? Hot tub?  IMG_4852

The Rocker is engaged! In a week of nothing but bad news from Texas to Nice, I thought it best to lighten the mood and announce our good news. Ms Cait, aka Aunt KiKi, said “Yes” and we couldn’t be happier.

She was young when I first met her, barely 18, but I could tell they were mad about each other. All I knew was that she had graduated Red Bank Catholic, and attended college in PA. But then the Rocker told me she had traveled the world with her Jersey Shore Irish Dance Troupe, and I was smitten. She’s one of MY people!

Over the years our family has vacationed together, spent holidays together, and the happy couple even spent a month with the Bride and Groom in Nashville after Hurricane Sandy swept them out of Asbury Park. “What can I do?” Cait would always ask me in the kitchen, and together we would make culinary tasks fun and creative. Her Mama, Ellen, raised her right.

But of course you know all of this if you’ve been reading along since I started this blog to try and make sense out of another wedding six years ago! I was planning a destination wedding in Cville while two extremely busy Vandy residents were doctoring in Nashville. Today it’s a different story. Plus, it’s like the second child, I’ve been through the Willy Wonka wilderness of venues and cakes, I know what to do.

Cait is a proud feminist, a Millennial who is not afraid of the term. She keeps me up to date on the latest challenge to young, female artists; it seems she hates censorship just as much as her betrothed. And she keeps Bob up to date on the latest video games to challenge the mind. She is an excellent artist herself, with a wide ranging, multimedia portfolio. And she knows how to get things done; she created and helped organize the first Asbury music and art festival years ago.

When they told us they were moving to LA, I admit I was worried. Once a Jersey Girl, always a Jersey Girl. Cait has a posse of very loyal girlfriends, and her whole family lives on the East Coast. But they are an amazing team, and one by one – a sister here, a friend there – their coterie of new and old Left Coast friends has expanded. She landed an exciting job at the new contemporary art museum, the Broad, and settled right in.

The first time we visited them in LA, we walked down the block to their neighborhood farmers market and Cait knew almost every vendor by name. She has an easy charm, and a quick wit. Sometimes I catch my son looking at her, as if he can’t believe his luck. Her beauty is breathtaking.

And so the beat goes on. Great Grandma Ada is always reminding the happy couple she no longer buys green bananas (hint hint). And I am more relaxed now, after all the Mother of the Groom doesn’t have quite the same level of responsibility as the MOB. Ellen is still living in NJ and we get along like long lost sisters. Knowing these two creative spirits of ours, their wedding will be magical on any Coast they choose!

This was Thanksgiving on a beach years ago when the Love Bug was a baby. See how Ms Cait leans in! Welcome to our family, we love you like a daughter already!   IMG_3557

A Shot Mind

Ageism. It’s hard to avoid these days since many of us will live for nearly a century. Each “woman of a certain age” knows what I mean when I say there comes a time when we become invisible. Young people, after all, are walking around chasing invisible fictional characters on their ‘dumb’ phones. We, otoh, are trying to find ours!

So it came as no surprise that the Donald would malign my hero, the Notorious RBG, by saying on Twitter of course, “Her mind is shot – resign.” Not the best use of “shot” as a noun, the day after that Dallas Police memorial service. Still, 83 year old Justice Ginsburg said in an interview she thought the GOP front-runner was a “faker.”

“At first I thought it was funny,” she said of Trump’s early candidacy. “To think that there’s a possibility that he could be president … ” Her voice trailed off gloomily.
“I think he has gotten so much free publicity,” she added, drawing a contrast between what she believes is tougher media treatment of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and returning to an overriding complaint: “Every other presidential candidate has turned over tax returns.”  http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/12/politics/justice-ruth-bader-ginsburg-donald-trump-faker/

There’s something radical about a woman who speaks her mind. But a woman in a black robe, how dare she?

Bob has seen many a nursing home patient with little to no mind left, and it’s not pretty or something to hurl at a Supreme Court Justice. In fact, he once saw a woman who had forgotten how to cook. I asked him if that could ever happen to me; then I thought, would it be such a bad thing? Never to cook again?

But let’s leave women out of the kitchen for a minute and think about the GOP platform for 2016, it’s as if they are playing a game of one step forward, five steps back. They don’t want to play “identity politics” by ensuring the rights of the LGBT community, but the fetus still has an identity. “Personhood” should be protected. Oh, and just when women won the right to equal pay and to serve in the front lines of the armed forces, the GOP thought it better if we ladies stayed out of combat. Better yet, back in the kitchen. http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2016-election/republican-platform-continues-move-right-day-two-n608031

Since we are still without air conditioning, this is the fifth day, my mind is starting to melt. I left the house one day without my dumb/smart phone AND my glasses! I’ve been trying not to cook for the simple reason that 83 degrees is too hot to play with fire. Supposedly, the part will be in and the tech will fix our AC unit tomorrow…sometime tomorrow. Meanwhile the humidity has returned and today should see us nearing 90. Fingers crossed.

But back to the shot mind. I love following Glenn Greenwald on Twitter @gggreenwald. He is a reporter without an agenda. Here is what he had to say about the latest kerfuffle:

“Hard to take seriously court impartiality/Ginsburg furor after 5 GOP-appointed judges stopped vote-counting & made George W. Bush president”

Now that says it all! Yessiree, I will be voting this November with a mind to keep the Supreme Court on the right side of history. I think Bernie’s revolution has just begun, and it will start with our first woman President. And just so you know, I will be forgoing Snapchat and Pokemon Now. My mind can only tech so much.

Here we are at the Apple Genius Bar, trying to catch up. And ps, Bob actually installed 16 RAMs of memory in my MacBook Pro, so my hot messy mind has a fast laptop. Take that young’uns!!  IMG_4808

 

 

“We are now so interdependent that it is in our own interest to take the whole of humanity into account.” Dalai Lama

This week was enough to make all of us cry. First in Baton Rouge, a man selling CDs on a sidewalk named Alton Sterling was thrown to the ground and shot point blank by a policeman. His crime? Carrying a gun while Black. It is all on YouTube thanks to a cell phone video. Then in my brothers’ home state of MN, another Black man was killed by a cop, and another cell phone video went live, so people on Facebook could watch Philandro Castile take his last breath while his girlfriend tells the officer, “You shot four bullets into him sir!” His crime was a broken tail light, and the audacity to tell the police he was licensed to carry a gun, while reaching for his wallet.

When a Black sniper in Dallas, an Army veteran,  decided to take vengeance into his own hands, we all thought this is it. Something has got to give, we cannot sustain our country by buying guns and living behind gates, by living in fear of the “Other.” And for a split second it did seem as if the Red and Blue was weaving itself back together again. But it didn’t last.

When I met a woman from Dallas at a memorial service on Friday, we touched on the troubles. I was truly grieving, so much senseless loss. And she said, “What about Black on Black crime?” and her daughter took her elbow, cautioning her to be careful what she said….I wasn’t sure where she was going. But from the younger woman’s reaction I knew it would be bad.

When White people talk about “Black on Black crime,” it’s like saying all Mexicans are rapists. It’s code for an underlying bigotry; don’t trust them, they’re gangsta. When I taught Head Start in the projects of Jersey City, I remember people calling it a ghetto. The word ghetto actually comes from the pogroms in Russia – it is Yiddish and means: an organized persecution or extermination of an ethnic group, esp of Jews.

When White people say, “Castile was doing everything right,” what that means is he was licensed to carry a gun, he had a good job, he wasn’t selling cigarettes or CDs on the street. He bought the American Dream, he didn’t have to hustle, he worked at a Montessori school for f-sake. And he had a fiancee and a baby girl in the back seat. He lived in a fairly progressive part of the country, but that couldn’t save him from a terrified cop with a gun. And the underlying message?

Since Castile was doing right, all those other unarmed Black men must have been doing something wrong!

safe_image.phpWhen the President compared the Black Dallas shooter to the Neo-Nazi White shooter in Charleston he was making a valid point. There is not much we can do to predict which mentally ill young man will wake up one day and decide to take out a number of people based on race or ridiculous ideology. Why is the gunman of one crime a lone wolf, while another morphs into a terrorist?

Today, social media is turning the tide around these issues. We can no longer ignore a militarized police force. We must witness the mass murder of police in the middle of a non-violent protest march. We are teaching our children to shelter in closets in our schools, because the right to bear arms is so precious to us.

We will always have a few bad cops. And we will always have the mentally ill. The flint to this combustible mixture is the gun, and God help us, if our legislators cannot regulate guns in this country, we may run out of hope. Because racism can be cured; racism needs to be taught, and we as a people can decide to stop teaching hate to our children.

The whole world is watching.IMG_4812

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